The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell


The Tipping Point looks at factors that lead to a surge/movement/something “blows up”. Gladwell discusses the law of the few. People may think successful word of mouth is having a lot of people talk about the item. Instead, it is actually a few that are far more impactful. These people fall within 3 categories, Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen. Connectors make a point of connecting with people. These people take pride in knowing people from all aspects of their lives, and the ability to stay in touch with them. The Connectors will connect people to other people, serving to build further connections. Once a Connector gets ahold of something, they can push it to their vast network. Mavens want to know more about everything they come across and find joy in sharing that information. They will know the specs of products, the prices of products at various stores and how to negotiate the best deals. They want to help people reap these benefits as well. Once they get word of something they value, they will take it upon themselves to spread the word, which is often respected due to past experiences. Salesmen isn’t necessarily pushing product, but rather building comfort in connecting with others through all interactions.  They don’t talk over others, they work to adjust to the person and have an ability to pick up on body language, verbal cues and more which makes it feel like a more comfortable conversation. There are other factors that help tip, such as stickiness, and context. TV shows such as Sesame Street and Blues Clues were built to stick. They worked to get children involved and kids loved it. Context impacts things such as crime, where success in cities has been seen from cleaning up subway areas, removing graffiti, cracking down on people not paying for the subway. This set a new expectation, that crime was not permitted and as a result, more significant crimes decreased.

How it influenced me

I’m in process of developing a bottle opener which I hope will be a success. This can occur if I can get it to tip. Reading the book, I was particularly interested in the connectors and mavens. I took a moment to reflect to what degree I was a connector, maven, and salesman. If I’m able to increase my ability in each, then it means my own impact could be more significant. Additionally, within my friends, I have some friends that fit better within each section, which could benefit my attempts to sell the bottle opener. Finally, as I look to meet people and promote the bottle opener, I can keep an eye open for people that fit within the connector, maven, or salesmen criteria. If I’m able to meet such a person, it could be great for success. Another key area was working on the little things to reduce crime. This reminds me of Influence by Robert Cialdini, where he discussed social proof/consensus. People will look to others for how to behave in uncertain contexts. This can help with marketing, but also with management of a company. This comes into action through deliberate implementation of a culture. Getting people to fit the culture and looking for daily reminders to reinforce the culture. This can set the stage for long term success.


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